I want to help others.

I, like many others making STD Lab tests, have come to learn I have had persistent HPV for over 10 years (8 years confirmed via screening), and I am hoping what I’m about to type can be helpful to others riding the same wave.

Here’s my history:

2015 first smear – the cervical screening programme was piloting primary testing in my area. Results: Positive, no abnormalities, 12-month recall.

2016—My results letter did not mention HPV, so they didn’t check for it! Results: Normal cytology back in 3 years.

2018 – I had severe anxiety as I had just found out a friend of mine had been STD Panel testing positive. And they offered me screening every 12 months. I fussed with my GP and requested they take another smear; luckily, the lab didn’t reject it. The results of the exam were HPV+, with no abnormalities. Is it back to routine recall?!

Positive results

2021 – Results are Virus+, no abnormalities 12-month recall. At this point, I was so unhappy with the lack of follow-up since my first invite compared to others. I raised my concerns with my GP (who was pretty clueless) after reading that after 3 HPV+ results, you should be invited to colposcopy. At this point, I mentioned on a couple of occasions I had some brownish spotting mid-cycle (I may have overplayed this and realised it was highly likely to be ovulation-related), so I felt I had no other choice but to play on this to get seen by an STD specialist. With my history, my GP requested a referral to colposcopy, which the hospital rejected, and then attempted to refer me to the gynaecology clinic, which was also rejected!

I felt I had no other choice but to go for a private HPV DNA exam. The anxiety of having had this for so long (reading “most” people clear of it within 1-2 years isn’t helpful!) was consuming way too much of my mental capacity. I didn’t buy that the virus went away in between screenings and coincidentally “came back” just in time for my next smear (as my GP suggested). I tried everything to boost my immune system, AHCC back in 2015 and again in 2018 for 6 months both times (when it was affordable!); in 2021, all types of vitamins from high dose vit c, folate, b12, gut boosting visits, vit E, turmeric, beta-glucans, and the rest…drank green tea, ate healthy, exercised – I threw everything I could to boost my immune system to fight this thing, and nothing worked.

A private consultation

In the end, I found a consultant who actually could treat the HPV infection on Harley Street in London. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) has high success rates (75% clearance). Providing it is just that or, at most, CIN1. I went for the consultation, where they carried out a colposcopy, a panel and cervical cytology. This came back as +ve type 18 with normal cytology, and I would be a good candidate for the TCA treatment. I had the treatment a month later. He called me back for another colposcopy. HPV/cytology screening 4 months later, which all came back negative, was back in Oct 2021. Then I thought I’d wait for my NHS recall before I posted to triple-check. I received those results this weekend, which are also negative!

I realise that not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford private follow-up. Honestly, I wasn’t sure whether posting my STD Life story of Testing and a treatment that not everyone can access would be helpful. But I couldn’t post about the success of this treatment in the hope that it will help someone in the future.

Most people will develop Human Papillomavirus in their lifetime. We’re far more likely to get at least one type than not.

Why won’t it go away?

 It usually goes away without affecting the body. And we often don’t even know that we have it as it causes no symptoms. Cervical screening for HPV. This means some women and people with a cervix will be told they have it on their results letter. This experience can be straightforward, but we know this isn’t the case for everyone. The majority of calls to our Helpline include HPV test advice. We hear daily from people who experience a wide range of emotions, decisions and thought processes after they are told they have the virus. For a few, it can be truly life-changing.

We set out to better understand the breadth of experiences through research, one-on-one interviews and focus groups. What we’ve discovered is set out in this report, along with recommendations to improve the diagnostic experience and the support offered afterwards. They may be just a handful of stories, but they represent the views of countless women and people with a cervix.

Once I heard a bit more about STDs. It is common and not to worry about anymore.” Almost everyone has it, so don’t worry!” 

Our research found that half of the people we tell have it have never heard of it. This can make coping with results from the very first cervical screening extremely difficult. 

Antonia, 28

“I remember the letter said it causes cell changes. Long-lasting HPV Home sampling usually results in cancer. The word I remember most was ‘cancer’. I broke down in the living room in front of my mum. I’d never heard of it before that point and started googling it immediately. It said Testing for STD, and I thought I’d done something wrong. I explain it to people. They have many questions. I’d had the vaccine, so what does it mean.”

Kavita, 28

I was surprised when I learnt from an exam that I had the virus. The only knowledge I had of it and treatment at the time was that I had had all three of my jabs at school, which I thought would completely prevent me from getting it! I am worried about what it means, as no one taught me at school. And my doctor didn’t tell me anything about it when I attended my smear exam either. I just had to Google it myself. Because I’m so open about the HPV DNA Viral Infection Test, I’ve taught many of my female friends about it, as they had no idea what it even was and were surprised how little they knew.”